OU’s Yachad/NJCD To Present Special Education Conference For Yeshiva Day School Educators

19 Oct 2006


National Association of Day Schools Serving Exceptional Children, an affiliate of the Orthodox Union’s National Jewish Council for Disabilities, which serves exceptional children, will hold a unique, two-day Special Education Conference for Yeshiva/Day School Educators from across the continent on Monday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, at OU Headquarters in Manhattan, continuing on November 7, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Kushner Schools in Livingston, NJ.

The second day it will be held concurrently with the NJCD’s New Jersey Association of Jewish Day Schools annual Election Day Statewide Professional Development Conference, for educators in New Jersey Jewish Schools.

The Special Education Conference, initiated by NJCD, is designed to bring together Jewish special educators from across the United States and Canada to network with each other and with leading figures in special education and psychology. “Over time, we hope this conference will promote excellence in Jewish special educational and incorporation of cutting edge methodology,” declared Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of NJCD and founder and Dean of the IVDU High School, which prepares high school students who have disabilities to be independent adults and productive members of the community.

NJCD is an agency of the OU that provides educational and social inclusion programs through its two major components, Yachad, for the learning and developmentally disabled, and Our Way for the deaf and hard of hearing. It works to ensure that every Jew can participate in the joys of Jewish life and the observance of mitzvot (Torah commandments). NJCD’s mainstreaming activities sensitize the community to its member’s strengths and abilities, their needs and their dreams.

The conference will feature Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, who will address the topic, An Overview of the Theory of Cognitive Modifiability and its Application to the Special Needs Population, throughout both days. Rabbi Feuerstein is the Vice-Chairman of the International Center for the Enhancement of Learning Potential. He has authored many books on the subject of cognitive modifiability, which is based on the belief that every individual can change, and that their ability to function can be meaningfully developed through proper education.

On Tuesday, the keynote speaker, presenting the topic, There is Only One Way to Improve Student Achievement or How to be a Successful and Effective Teacher, will be Dr. Harry Wong, often described as “the most sought after speaker in education today.” He is the author of more than 30 publications, including The First Day of School, which has sold more than 2.5 million copies. He will speak at 1 p.m. An Instructor Magazine reader’s poll in March 2006 naming the most admired people in education lists Dr. Wong among such notables as Maya Angelou, Laura Bush, Bill Cosby, Hillary Clinton, Ron Clark, Marva Collins, Howard Gardner, Mel Levine, and Oprah Winfrey.

Among the topics to be addressed at the two-day conference are: teaching math to students with disabilities; art therapy; brain research; Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) with hands-on activities; and, teaching genocide and the Holocaust to students with disabilities.

In addition to sessions mentioned above, other highlights include:

•Perry Samowitz, MA, Director of Education and Training for the YAI/National Institute for People with Disabilities Network in New York, will present, How to Improve Thinking Strategies For People With Developmental Disabilities;

•Ellen Messing, Special Education Teacher, NYS Department of Education, will address the topic of effectively teaching mathematics to children with disabilities;

•Dr. Jeffrey Lichtman, National Director of Yachad, The National Jewish Council for Disabilities (NJCD), will present, Facilitating Inclusion through the Development of Social Skills;

•Annette Vaccaro, Adjunct Professor of Graduate Art Therapy at Caldwell College, will speak about applying art as a way of self-expression in the classroom; and,

•Shmuel Abramson, Director of Day Services-Yedei Chesed of Rockland County, will discuss methods to teach Halachah (Jewish law) to children with disabilities.

For costs and to register contact Chani Herrmann at 212-613-8373 or at herrmann@ou.org, or Batya Jacob at 212-613-8127 or at jacobb@ou.org.